When you think about martial arts, what comes to mind? Probably common arts such as Judo, Taekwondo and Karate. Ninjutsu may not be as well-known, but it bears the same significance as the other martial arts. 

Ninjutsu is a Japanese martial art that started in feudal Japan, combining physical strength and mental awareness in its teachings. The art merges the stealthiness of a ninja and the physical ability of a Jitsu. 

The rest of this article discusses the teachings in this martial art, the different techniques it embraces, and much more. Read on to learn everything you need to know about what Ninjutsu is. 

What Do You Learn in Ninjutsu?

In Ninjutsu, you learn to train your mind and body on stealthy ways of dealing with an attacker or attacking someone. Regarding mental awareness, you learn to train your mind regarding attacks or being an assassin. Physically, you learn different fighting techniques to defeat your opponent. 

Mental Awareness Training

The Ninja part in Ninjutsu training will teach you how to live like a spy. You’ll need to learn to lead a quiet life and focus your mental energy on the assignment at hand. 

Here are some of the things you’ll learn in this training. 

  • Being unnoticeable. A major part of being a Ninjutsu warrior is being able to go unnoticed even when you’re living among other people. This means having a small circle of friends and missing out on social life. 
  • Keeping a low profile. Ninjutsu was designed for people who were training to become spies. If you take up the art, you’ll be required to live a quiet life while also blending in with the environment. 
  • Self-discipline and honor. Living life as a ninja requires self-discipline and living by a code of honor. 
  • Align your thought process to an assassin’s way of life. Ninjutsu teaches you to approach an enemy or a victim without being noticed. As such, you’ll need to adopt the mind of an assassin. 
  • Developing a strong mentality. When learning Ninjutsu, you need to clearly understand the principles and codes around the art. You’ll develop a strong mentality with a guided approach to life. 
  • Defeating enemies without getting physical. Ninjutsu will teach you strategies to fight your enemy without getting physical. Such strategies include creating self-doubt or spreading rumors about the enemy. 
  • Humility and confidence. Even if being a ninja brings you a lot of success, you’ll learn how to stay humble. You’ll also learn to be confident in your skills whenever you need to use them. 

Physical Training

Ninjutsu is a martial art, just like Karate and Judo. This means that you’ll also be learning physical fighting techniques to handle your enemies. 

You’ll learn tactics such as :

  • Joint locks. This is the art of manipulating your enemy’s wrist to gain control of their whole body. This technique requires you to be in close range with the enemy. 
  • Striking with chops and flying kicks. These attack strategies are borrowed from Kung Fu and Karate. You’ll learn how to attack with your hands and legs to gain control over the enemy. 
  • Dodging and striking speed. You’ll learn how to avoid kicks and blows from the enemy and reciprocate fast. Speed is the most important skill here— it’s the key to overpowering your enemy. 
  • Weapon training. Traditionally, Ninjutsu only entailed using your body as a weapon. However, in modern classes, you’ll learn to use weapons such as the bokken, shuriken throwing stars, arrows, and claws. 

Common Ninjutsu Techniques

Ninjutsu is an intricate martial art that might take you years to learn and internalize. It entails different techniques used in different situations. 

Here are some of the main Ninjutsu skills:

  • Seishinteki kyōyō: this spiritual education also entails the mind and emotions. It involves concepts such as self-knowledge, harmony, and understanding nature.
  • Taijutsu: techniques for empty-handed combat.
  • Kenjutsu: the art of wielding the Japanese sword.
  • Bojutsu: techniques for fighting with sticks and staffs.
  • Sōjutsu: the art of wielding the Japanese spear.
  • Naginatajutsu: the art of wielding the naginata, sometimes called the Japanese glaive.
  • Kusarigamajutsu: techniques for the kusarigama, which is a Japanese weapon with a blade on one end and a metal chain ending with a weight on the other.
  • Shurikenjutsu: the techniques for using throwing weapons, such as shuriken and kunai.

Seishinteki Kyōyō

This is a technique that focuses primarily on your spiritual nourishment. Here, you’ll focus on your mental, spiritual and emotional well-being. 

The following principles guide this tenet:

  • Self-knowledge
  • Understanding nature
  • Fate (knowing one’s destiny or call)
  • Harmony
  • The heart (Kokoro)
  • Love


This technique teaches you how to defend yourself using only your body. Here, you’ll approach your enemy with no weapons. However, you’re allowed to use any part of your body to help you win the fight. 

Some of the techniques you’ll learn are:

  • Strikes 
  • Kicks
  • Throws
  • Joint locks
  • Chokes
  • Passive defensive movements, such as rolling, diving, leaping, and climbing


With these techniques, you’ll learn how to handle your sword during a fight. It’s part of weapon training in Ninjutsu. Some of the positions you’ll learn are:

  • Sword held overhead
  • Sword held to the side.
  • Middle thrust
  • Sword pointing down 
  • Horizontal sword swipes


Besides learning sword techniques, you’ll also learn how to use the staff—called bo— to fight off your enemies. You can use the staff for striking and sparring your enemy. Some of the techniques you’ll learn here include:

  • Striking
  • Blocking
  • Spinning 


Sometimes, your enemy is not in close range. However, this doesn’t mean that they are less of a threat. As a ninja, you’ll need to learn how to use long weapons for enemies at a distance. 

Here’s where spears enter the Ninjutsu training. Japanese spears are called Yuri, and they were a common weapon among foot soldiers in feudal Japan. Some of the tactics you’ll learn are:

  • Stabs
  • Slash attacks
  • Blocking attacks


With this technique, you’ll learn how to use the long-handled naginata to attack or wade off your enemy. You can use your naginata to increase the radius between you and your and them relying on techniques like:

  • Stab
  • Batter 
  • Hook 

You can stab your enemy with the tip of the naginata, using maximum force to injure or incapacitate them. You can also use the sides of the blade to batter the opponent and throw them off balance. This strategy is most useful when you don’t have a clear angle to stab.

You can also hook the opponent to close the gap between you. This throws your opponent off balance and gives you the upper hand in the fight.

Overall, fighting with a naginata helps you gain more ground on your enemy. However, it’s not a suitable weapon for indoor fighting, where the long pole might end up hindering your movement.


With this technique, you’ll learn how to use the peculiar kusarigama. It has a chain-hooked sickle on one hand and an iron weight held by that chain on the other hand. The trick is learning how to swing these weapons in circular motions towards your enemy. 

This technique requires intensive training to avoid the weapon swinging back at you. 

You can use the iron weight to hit the enemy or use the sickle to injure them. Also, you can tangle them with the iron chains and stop them from attacking you. 


In Ninjutsu, you’ll learn to use concealed weapons to distract your enemies. You’ll need to carry extra hidden weapons, which you can use to throw your enemy off balance. Some of the weapons you can use include:

  • Throwing stars (shuriken)
  • Pointed knives (kunai)
  • Claws 

After distracting your enemy, you’ll have enough time to carry out a stealth attack. 

Can You Learn Ninjutsu on Your Own?

You can’t learn Ninjutsu on your own because Ninjutsu is a martial art that focuses on both the mind and physical training of a student. If you want to learn both aspects and perfect them, you need to get formal training.

The mental training part is easy to get around if you put your mind to it. You can search for books and videos on the different mental, spiritual and emotional training you need to become a skilled ninja. 

Ninja physical techniques can be fatal if you apply them wrongly. It is safer to get a certified trainer to teach you to apply non-combat moves such as joint locking. You also need to be guided on using weapons such as swords and spears before becoming a full ninja. However, you can learn moves such as kicking and striking by watching videos online. 

The Three Perspectives of Ninjutsu

History records three perspectives of Ninjutsu:

  • Ninjutsu as a complete martial art.
  • The myth of the ninja.
  • Ninjutsu as part of Samurai tools.

The three perspectives explain the art a little differently There are scrolls and documents that support each perspective, but there’s some disagreement over which one is closer to the truth.

Ninjutsu as a Complete Martial Art

This point of view discusses Ninjutsu as a full martial art. It categorizes it among other arts such as Karate and Kung Fu.

This perspective disputes the argument that Ninjutsu stands out and breaks the boundaries of martial arts. It’s supported by the fact that most of its characteristics have things in common with other martial arts. 

Like most martial arts, Ninjutsu focuses on physical training and mental awareness. It combines these two tenets to create a complete fighting technique. 

The Myth of a Ninja

Ninjas are often described as superhuman creatures, especially in books, comics, and films. This has created an exaggerated idea of Ninjutsu among many people, who believe the art is as good as the myth. 

In this perspective, ninjas are described as the Yamabushi. These were mountain-dwelling warriors who had to come up with survival strategies. Their survival tactics included being stealthy and attacking their enemies in the dark. 

To this day, some people believe that Ninjas are just a myth. 

Ninjutsu as Part of Samurai Skills

This perspective discusses that Ninjutsu is not a complete martial art. It states that Ninjutsu is just one of the many skills a Samurai learned for survival. 

It also discusses Ninjutsu as being a combination of many skills. These include:

  • Espionage
  • Assassination
  • Camouflaging
  • Magic

These skills helped intensify the mystery and low-profile acts of ninjas. 

Is Ninjutsu a Real Martial Art?

Ninjutsu was a real martial art in feudal Japan, like karate and Judo. Ninjas learned the art to help them survive against their enemies. However, the reality of this art has been distorted by the media. 

Modern-day media portrays Ninjutsu as a magic-oriented practice and introduces superpower aspects that make it look unreal. Unfortunately, this is the image that most people have of Ninjutsu. This is why it’s not as popular as other martial arts. 

Some of the tools portrayed in the media as Ninjutsu weapons are also exaggerated. They make the art look like a dangerous sport to indulge in.

Ninjutsu doesn’t get the same recognition as other martial arts. Martial arts such as Kung Fu, Judo, Karate, and Taekwondo have been recognized as Olympic sports. Meanwhile, Ninjutsu has been left as a story that runs in the history of ancient Japan. 

Most of the weapons used in Ninjutsu are unusual, making the art further seem like a myth. Spears and chained sickles are not the usual tools you’d expect someone to be walking around with for self-defense.

Final Thoughts

Ninjutsu is a martial art that was used by trained assassins in ancient Japan. It combines mental awareness with physical skills to empower ninjas to deal with their enemies.

Ninjutsu borrows skills and strategies from other arts such as Karate and Kung Fu. However, it’s not as widely practiced. 

Ninjutsu is no longer seen as a real martial art by most people. This is due to the distortion caused by modern media, making the martial art look like a supernatural and impossible venture.

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